Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Leave Her to Heaven" by Ben Ames Williams

I first heard about this book from Lesa, who has seen the "creepy suspense film" adaptation from 1945, but hasn't read the book. She asked me to nab a copy for her if I saw it, so . . . I did! And, of course, I read it before sending it to her.

This is the story of an unbelievably possessive and manipulative young woman named Ellen Berent. She sets her sights on author Richard Harland almost as soon as she meets him, contriving to marry him in the space of two weeks. Her destructive jealousy leaves no room for relationships with other people, including Richard's younger brother or Ellen's own adopted sister. The story is suspenseful and steeped in mystery, leading the reader to guess what increasingly cold and calculating steps Ellen will take to keep Richard to herself.

From the beginning, Williams' writing reminded me of Jack London's with its no-frills, straightforward story in an outdoorsy setting (also because it kind of dragged at times); but as the story went on, it made me think of Richard Adams' The Girl in a Swing, only with Americans instead of Brits. And Richard Harland is nowhere near as fey and oblivious as Alan Desland. But Ellen is certainly a mirror image of Käthe (or Karin)--perhaps even more abominable and less plausible.

In all, it was a decent (though certainly not overwhelmingly brilliant) read. I have a feeling the movie may be better than the book.


Lesa said...

Thank you so much again for this book!! I would've read it first too-- and I am on the look out for Molesworth for you!!

Kathy said...

You're most certainly welcome, and I'm glad you don't mind that I read it first. ;) Sorry about the condition of the DJ--I would have just tossed it, but I figured I would let you make that decision. Hope you enjoy the read. And thanks for looking for Mrs Molesworth!

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